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This week in senate: Winner, winner, Chick-Fil-A dinner

By: Jon Dusza, Managing Editor and Ava C. Green, Editor-in-Chief

Speaker Natalie Faas quickly commenced this week’s senate meeting seven minutes early, likely in anticipation of USA's guest speaker, Vice President of Student Affairs Harold Fields. After roll call, senators jumped right into their half-hour work period, prompted by a list of questions to assist committees in developing their “senator projects” which we hope to hear more about soon.

Once the e-board returned from their own meeting during the 30-minute work section, attendees welcomed VP Fields for his allotted 30 minutes to speak, which he used only about 10 of, leaving the rest for an open Q-and-A and discussion.

Fields started by acknowledging that he would have less involvement in organizing Campus Ministry, leaving the responsibility to Campus Ministry Director Spencer Liechty and Director of The New Buffalo Institute Shana Richardson.

He then went on to notify the group of some initiatives the school plans to integrate this semester, one of which being a new Telehealth app for students to access mental health support quickly, consistently and on demand.

Next, Fields acknowledged the overwhelming vocal discontent that students have shown toward the meal plan changes. He notified the senate that there will be additional information and resources soon available for anyone struggling to navigate their plan, or Canisius dining in general, but that no changes will be made to the current plans.

Vice President Fields also put an emphasis on an updated mindset when it comes to event planning and programming. He wants to urge those planning events to think, first, about what long-term “enrichment goals” they have and see what programming can enhance it. He believes that, in the past, Canisius has focused too much on events that prioritize an activity over a student’s needs.

To close his remarks before opening the floor to Q & A, Fields notified everyone that there would no longer be a campus shuttle service.

Once he opened the floor for a Q-and-A session, the first question was about Canisius’s plan for aiding students with transportation sans shuttle. He told the group that the average shuttle ride was starting to cost about $75 per student, and that the university would be focusing on updating its own vehicles or on creating a partnership with rideshare services to lower or cover the cost for students.

Students also asked questions regarding Public Safety no longer escorting students home during late hours. Fields replied that he spoke to Public Safety about creating a position filled by students to walk their fellow students home at night but that nothing concrete had been come up with as of the senate meeting.

The rest of the question-and-answer portion focused less on questions and more on attendees vocalizing their grievances, looking for a response or on-the-fly relief ideas from VP Fields, specifically about a more open and welcoming dining hall. Students started interjecting with their own ideas for possible implementation.

Upon this quasi-collaborative discussion, dispositions changed from fed up to fired up, the most notable change being when The Griffin looked to the front of the room at Speaker Faas and Vice Speaker Megan Campbell to see that Campbell somehow, somewhere, switched into a new outfit.

When giving her cabinet report, Sustainability Chair Genevieve Fontana directly responded to dining hall concerns regarding a lack of greenery within it with her committee's plan for a fresh produce station in the dining hall to “liven the place up”. She also mentioned upcoming campus cleanups that they hold.

USA President Jahare Hudson started off his executive report with a rather ominous message to “watch out for first-years,” which was met with raised brows and few giggles. After clarifying, the senate realized that this was a call to be people for and with others and to help our younger peers find their ground at Canisius — quite the opposite of what the comment seemed to originally allude to.

Hudson ended the report by fighting through his own laughter to let everyone know that he had been meeting with VP Fields and Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Development Jason Francey specifically in regards to the dining hall but did not disclose the details of these meetings.

The Griffin’s reporters were way too giddy upon getting kicked out of the meeting due to an executive session. As The Griffin waited outside of Regis, candidates for chair positions of the Justice and Public Health committees gave speeches before the senate officially voted on them.

The Griffin was finally allowed to return, and before joining attendees in finally getting to dig into the Chick-Fil-A that had been taunting them through the hours-long meeting, some congratulations were in order. Juniors James Wehner and Jazzy Brar were elected as Public Health Committee Chair and Justice Committee chair, respectively.

The senate’s next meeting will be on Friday, Sept. 22 at 2:30 p.m.

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